The Business Book

Big Ideas Simply Explained

Ian Marcouse, Philippa Anderson, Alexandra Black, Denry Machin, Nigel Watson

Publisher: Penguin, 2015, 352 pages

ISBN: 978-1-4093-4126-0

Keywords: MBA

Last modified: Oct. 30, 2019, 8:04 a.m.

How can you create a successful brand? What makes a great business leader? Why do some firms fail while others prosper? Throughout history, business gurus have offered ideas and solutions that have shaped and sharpened the world of business and commerce.

Written in plain English, The Business Book unpicks brilliant business thinking with pithy explanations that cut through the jargon, step-by-step diagrams that untangle theories, and witty illustrations that play with our ideas about the global marketplace.

Whether you're an entrepreseur starting up a business, a CEO looking at the bigger picture, or a consumer curious about what makes business tick, you'll find plenty to inspire you in this book.

  • Start Small, Think Big
    Starting and Growing the Business
    • If you can dream it, you can do it
      Beating the odds at start-up
    • There's a gap in the market, but is there a market in the gap?
      Finding a profitable niche
    • You can learn all you need to know about the competiton's operation by looking in his garbage cans
      Study the competition
    • The secret of business is to know something that nobody else knows
      Stand out in the market
    • Be first or be better
      Gaining an edge
    • Put all your eggs in one basket, and then watch that basket
      Managing risk
    • Luck is a dividend of sweat. The more you sweat, the luckier you get.
      Luck (and how to get lucky)
    • Broaden your vision, and maintain stability while advancing forward
      Take the second step
    • Nothing great is created suddenly
      How fast to grow
    • The role of the CEO is to enable people to excel
      From entrepreneur to leader
    • Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken
      Keep evolving business practice
    • A corporation is a living organism; ity has to continue to shed its skin
      Reinventing and adapting
    • Without continuous growth and progress, success has no meaning
      The Greiner curve
    • If you believe in something, work nights and weekends — it won't feel like work
      The weightless start-up
  • Lighting the Fire
    Leadership and Human Resources
    • Managers do things right, leaders do the right thing
      Leading well
    • None of us is as smart as all of us
      The value of teams
    • Innovation must be invasive and perpetual: everyone, everywhere, all the time
      Creativity and innovation
    • Dissent adds spice, spirit, and an invigorating quality
      Beware of the yes-men
    • No great manager or leader ever fell from heaven
      Gods of management
    • A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way
      Effective leadership
    • Teamwork is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results
      Organizing teams and talent
    • Leaders allow great people to do the work they were born to do
      Make the most of your talent
    • The way forward may not be to go forward
      Thinking outside the box
    • The more a person can do, the more you can motivate them
      Is money the motivator?
    • Be an enzyme — A catalyst for change
      Changing the game
    • The worst disease that afflicts executives is egotism
      Hubris and nemesis
    • Culture is the way in which a group of people solves problems
      Organizational culture
    • Emotional intelligence is the intersection of heart and head
      Develop emotional intelligence
    • Management is a practice where art, science, and craft, meet
      Mintzberg's management roles
    • A camel is a horse designed by committee
      Avoid groupthink
    • The art of thinking independently, together
      The value of diversity
  • Making Money Work
    Managing Finances
    • Do not let yourself be involved in fraudulent business
      Play by the rules
    • Executive officers must be free from avarice
      Profit before perks
    • If wealth is placed where it bears interest, it comes back to you redoubled
      Investments and dividends
    • Borrow short, lend long
      Making money from money
    • The interests of the shareholders are our own
      Accountability and governance
    • Make the best quality of goods, at the lowest cost, paying the highest wagest possible
      Your workers are your customers
    • Utilize OPM — Other People's Money
      Who bears the risk?
    • Swim upstream. Go the other way. Ignore the conventional wisdom
      Ignoring the herd
    • Debt is the worst enemy
      Leverage and excess risk
    • Cash is king
      Profit versus cash flow
    • Only when the tide goes out do you discover who's been swimming naked
      Off-balance-sheet risk
    • Return on equity is a financial goal that can become an own goal
      Maximize return on equity
    • As the role of private equity has grown, so have the risks it poses
      The private equity model
    • Assign costs according to the resources consumed
      Activity-based costing
  • Working WIth A Vision
    Strategy and Operations
    • Turn every disaster into an opportunity
      Learning from failure
    • If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses
      Leading new markets
    • The main thing to remember is, the main thing is the main thing
      Protect the core business
    • You don't need a huge company, just a computer and a part-time person
      Small is beautiful
    • Don't get caught in the middle
      Porter's generic strategies
    • The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do
      Good and bad strategy
    • Synergy and other lies
      Why takeovers disappoint
    • The Chinese word "crisis" is composed of two characters: "danger" and "opportunity"
      Crisis management
    • You can't grow long-term if you can't eat short-term
      Balancing long- versus short-termism
    • Market Attractiveness, Business Attractiveness
      The MABA matrix
    • Only the paranoid survice
      Avoiding complacency
    • To excel, tap into people's capacity to learn
      The learning organization
    • The future of business is selling less of more 
      The long tail
    • To be an optimist … have a contingency plan for when all hell breaks loose
      Contingency planning
    • Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable
      Scenario planning
    • The strongest competitive forces determine the profitability of an industry
      Porter's five forces
    • If you don't have a competitive advantage, don't compete
      The value chain
    • If you don't know where you are, a map won't help
      The capability maturity model
    • Chaos brings uneasiness, but it also allows for creativity and growth
      Coping with chaos
    • Always do what is right. It will gratify half of mankind and astonish the other
      Morality in business
    • There is no such thing as a minor lapse in integrity
    • Make it easier to do the right thing and much harder to do the wrong thing
      Creating an ethical culture
  • Successful Selling
    Marketing Management
    • Marketing is far too important to leave to the marketing department
      The marketing model
    • Know the customer so well that the product fits them and sells itself
      Understanding the market
    • Attention, Interest, Desire, Action
      The AIDA model
    • Marketing myopia
      Focus on the future market
    • The cash cow is the beating heart of the organization
      Product portfolio
    • Expanding away from your core has risks; diversification doubles them
      Ansoff's matrix
    • If you're different, you will stand out
      Creating a brand
    • There is only one boss: the customer
      Make your customers love you
    • Whitewashing, but with a green brush
    • People want companies to believe in something beyond maximizing profits
      The appeal of ethics
    • Everybody likes something extra for nothing
      Promotions and incentives
    • In good times people want to advertise; in bad times they have to
      Why advertise?
    • Make your thinking as funny as possible
      Generating buzz
    • E-commerce is becoming mobile commerce
    • Trying to predict the future is like driving with no lights looking out of the back window
    • Product, Place, Price, Promotion
      Marketing mix
  • Delivering the Goods
    Production and Post-Production
    • See how much, not how little, you can give for a dollar
      Maximize customer benefits
    • Costs do not exist to be calculated. Costs exists to be reduced
      Lean Production
    • If the pie's not big enough, make a bigger pie
      Fulfilling demand
    • Eliminate unnecessary steps
      Simplify processes
    • Every gain through the elimination oof waste is gold in the mine
      Juran's production ideal
    • Machines, facilities, and people should work together to add value
    • Learning and innovation go hand in hand
      Applying and testing ideas
    • Your most unhappy customer are your greatest source of learning
      Feedback and innovation
    • Technology is the great growling engine of change
      The right technology
    • Without big data, you are blind and deaf and in the middle of the freeway
      Benefitting from "big data"
    • Put the product into the customer's hands — it will speak for itself
      Quality sells
    • The desire to own something a little better, a little sooner than necessary
      Planned obsolescence
    • Time is money
      Time-based management
    • A project without a critical path is like a ship without a rudder
      Critical path analysis
    • Taking the best from the best


The Business Book

Reviewed by Roland Buresund

Outstanding ********* (9 out of 10)

Last modified: Oct. 30, 2019, 8:02 a.m.

Talk about seeing your MBA in a condensed format! This was a short version of the my MBA, explained in very short articles and done very well.

I am not sure if you could appreciate it fully without an MBA background, but it is very much to the point and covers in reality nearly everything in the base curriculum of an MBA (excepting Finance).

I really liked it and will go back to it from time to time, to remind myself of some concepts.


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